Targeted advertising: Black Arrow
Where it's based: San Jose, Calif.
When it was founded: 2005
Why it's Fierce: Capturing consumer eyeballs in the DVR era is no easy chore for advertisers. Of course they can, and do, make the ads more interesting for the viewers, but even then they can be skipped at the push of a fast forward button. The situation has become so dire that at least one broadcaster, CBS, has gone on record preferring video-on-demand to a DVR. With VoD, the broadcaster maintains, subscribers can still load a selected program, but they have to sit through the advertisements.
Even the heartiest advertising advocate probably has a hard time believing that subscribers, having experienced the freedom of push-to-go-away ads via DVR would want to go back to the old days of having to sit through the spots.
That's why Comcast has embraced, and other MSOs are trialing, the Black Arrow advanced advertising system that makes advertising worthwhile for viewers. Other MSOs including Cablevision, Fox Cable Networks and Rainbow Programming are trialing the system.
Black Arrow's technology breaks down potential audiences by demographics, location, viewing habits and other factors so that the ads can be placed for optimal viewing.
Targeted advertising won't necessarily stop subscribers from skipping through to the next bit of content, but it will at least give them reason to pause and consider because the ads are what they want.